How to Select the Best CDL Training Classes near Florence Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Florence AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Florence residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best method to make sure you'll receive the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Florence AZ, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Florence AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Florence AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Florence AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Florence AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Florence AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Florence AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Florence AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Florence AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Florence AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Florence AZ CDL Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Florence AZ.